This is the first Penelope Ward book that I have read, and I was soooooooo not disappointed. First, this book traveled down a totally different path than I anticipated after reading the sample. I honestly thought it was going to be a bit more lighter than it was. That being said, I loved it all the same. And come on, the cover alone, screams, “Open Me Up”!
Let me begin this review by saying, that yes, he is her step-brother, and yes, she does has sex with him. But it’s not in the “taboo, incestual way”.They met as 18 year olds and only lived together for several months before he departs and not seeing one another again for 7 years. His dad and her mom just so happened to be married to one another.
This book is very well written. In my opinion it is written in the perfect way. You love the characters at the right time and get frustrated with them at the right time. It captivates you and is able to hold your attention, really making it very difficult to not look ahead. I fell in love with Elec. His story is so emotional and raw you can’t help it and you understand what Greta saw in him. Greta is a great female lead. She is strong when she needs to be and she shows vulnerability when it’s called for.
The book begins with Elec having to come and live with his father Randy, and Randy’s new wife, Sarah. Sarah has a daughter Greta who is the same age as Elec. Elec and Randy have no relationship and that’s putting it lightly, but he is forced to live with Randy until his mother is back in California. Of course, Sarah and Greta attempt, even though it’s a failure, to welcome Elec with open arms. The anger that Randy and Elec have towards one another was very confusing. There is even a point in the first half of the book, where Greta has to step in and defend Elec because Randy is just down right verbally abusing him (it will come together why in the second half of the book).
The relationship between Elec and Greta actually starts off quite typical. They get on each others nerves, he tries to push her away by being hateful, they play pranks on one another, just typical step-sibling banter. Greta however refuses to allow him to shut her out. She makes a huge effort to be friends with him. Her work finally pays off and their relationship does begin to shift and they find themselves growing closer to one another. I will not spoil the story, but I will say, that Elec eventually leaves Boston and heads back to his mother in California. They won’t see one another again for 7 years.
Fast forward seven years and the situation is stressful to say the least. They come together again in the face of a family tragedy and this is really where the love for Elec and Greta will really grow. For me, the mark of a great author is when you can feel the emotion of the characters coming off of the page, and in the second half of this book, you will most definitely feel it. I can’t speak about the second half of the book too much without giving a lot away and this is a book where you need to discover “what lies beneath” for yourself. But for me, this part of the book drew me in so much, that I was reading whenever I had even a short break. And if you really want to know how good this book is, I finished it in about a day and a half.
I won’t say much more, but if the idea of step siblings having sex with one another freaks you out, regardless of the lack of “sibling bonding”, then you probably shouldn’t read this book. But, I believe this is a really good read and you should most certainly take the chance on it.
Oh, and one more thing. . .Elec has a thing for anagrams, I suspect by the end of this book, you will too.